Predictability, Unpredictability, and Movement

Interesting overlaps and applications to church planting and leadership here…

Each of us, individually and as a member of particular social groups, seeks to embody his own plans and projects in the natural and social world. A condition of achieving this is to render as much of our natural and social environment as possible predictable… At the same time each of us, individually and as a member of particular social groups, aspires to preserve his independence, his freedom, his creativity, and that inner reflection which plays so great a part in freedom and creativity, from invasion by others. We wish to disclose of ourselves no more than we think right and nobody wishes to disclose all of himself… We need to remain to some degree opaque and unpredictable, particularly when threatened by the predictive practices of others. The satisfaction of this need to at least some degree supplies another necessary condition for human life being meaningful in the ways that it is and can be. It is necessary, if life is to be meaningful, for us to engage in long-term projects, and this requires predictability; it is necessary, if life is to be meaningful, for us to be in possession of ourselves and not merely be the creations of other people’s projects, intentions and desires, and this requires unpredictability. We are thus involved in a world where we are simultaneously trying to render the rest of society predictable and ourselves unpredictable…

– Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (2nd ed, Notre Dame Press, 1984, 104)

Though new churches and ministries work hard at remaining informal, noncodified, and noncentralized, institutionalization is unavoidable… and some institutionalization is even desirable… A unified vision – held by every member of the movement – is critical to movement dynamics. But this vision cannot change every day, or even every year, or it will create chaos in the movement and retard its growth… In other words, a movement must eventually settle into a sustainable business model that generates enough resources to cover expenses. If it fails to do this, it will end up burning out the best people and failing to progress toward the vision.

A strong, dynamic movement, then, occupies this difficult space in the center – the place of tension and balance between being a freewheeling organism and a disciplined organization.

– Tim Keller, Center Church (Redeemer City to City, 2012, 341-342)

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